Bract is the name of a global trial featuring hops from NZ Hops’ development program. Sixty breweries across the planet have been invited to be partners, and given there's now close to four billion brewing companies in operation, being selected as one of those 60 feels like a pretty big deal.
One brewery to receive a guernsey is Uraidla. Now, the Adelaide Hills crew have a deservedly excellent reputation, which has been built in large part upon their mastery of hops in everything from low ABV beers to punchy IPAs and fruity red ales. Yet they're still tiny: a great example of a brewery punching well above its weight. So, what I guess I'm trying to say is this is quite the honour to be selected, and presumably with that comes some pressure.
The new hop variety they were given to play with is NZH102, which they put to work solo within an unfiltered IPA fermented warm with the Verdant yeast strain favoured by many brewers of hazy IPAs and NEIPAs. The result is a beer that pours with the visual density of an OG US NEIPA and provides a delivery system as soft as its fluffy white cloud of a head suggests.
It appears that NZH102 sits right in the sweet spot for hops in 2022: fruity as, with as clear a stonefruit character as you'll come across, and something a little flightier as a top note. Despite its fluffy body it never veers into sweetness, nor is there any distracting grip or overt bitterness. It's just a soft hug of a beer – one of the very finest I've sampled in 2022, no less – and a sign NZ Hops were wise to pick them as a Bract partner.
NB There's two other limited releases out from Uraidla; I'll get to them later. Mana deserved its own spot in the limelight.
- Hazy IPA